The head of New Zealand King Salmon (NZKS) said the government’s business strategy will be challenged if it rejects the company’s plans to expand in the Marlborough Sounds.
Chief executive Grant Rosewarne said he remains confident the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will approve the request for extra sea space for new farms, but the company was “scrambling” to come up with a backup plan after the Marlborough District Council lobbied to reject the expansion.
NZ King Salmon already runs seven salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds with an output of almost 9,000 tonnes of salmon a year and a staff of 450 workers, mainly in Nelson.
Last year, NZKS applied to the EPA for another nine farms that would span about 12 ha of sea space and argued that its expansion plans should be considered a project of national significance, Fairfax NZ News reports.
Rosewarne said the company had worked hard to turn a commodity product into a luxury brand, reaching out into Asia and striving to have New Zealand products listed named on menus around the globe.
“We’re doing everything that government and business and quasi-government organisations are asking, in terms of taking what was a commodity product, branding it, following it all the way through to export markets,” Rosewarne said. “Having done all of that, if there’s no possibility of growth, and there’s no possibility of any return for doing that, it does put a serious question mark over the strategy that all of us, business and government, are pursuing.”
NZKS spent more than NZD 6 million (USD 4.9 million) on its EPA application, commissioning 40 experts to assess the proposal’s impact.
A report included in the application and formulated by Auckland-based Market Economics said the expansion would support 1,600 jobs in the Nelson-Marlborough region by the mid-2020s if a processing plant is established in Picton. It also estimates the expansion would generate an additional NZD 119 million (USD 96.7 million) of value-added commercial activity in the regional economy.
Sustain Our Sounds, an opponent of the NZ King Salmon expansion, said the claim is misleading because the Picton water supply could not handle a new processing factory.
The group also believes the expansion would have a negative impact once the effects of the farm’s pollution on commercial fishing and tourism are considered.
Sustain Our Sounds will complain to the Commerce Commission that the company is violating the Fair Trading Act by misleading the public, The Marlborough Express reports.